DALLAS Spend a few hours with four-year-old Wyatt Hale and you'll see how Christmas takes on a whole new meaning.

Inside a packed NorthPark Center, he was among more than 300 kids to visit with Santa on Saturday morning. But it's a picture he will take for the first time, without his father nearby.

Debby McCracken, Wyatt's grandmother, went to the mall with Wyatt. 'He loves his Dad; they are just so close,' she said.

What Wyatt didn't know is that his father was just upstairs, one short escalator ride away.

'I can peek around the corner, but it's kind of hard to see through the glass,' said Sgt. Justin Hale as he watched his son from the balcony.

After seven months in Afghanistan (and a few more in North Carolina), Hale will, once again, hurry up and wait.

A career Marine, Sgt. Hale has served four tours overseas, but on Saturday, all his training was being put to the test.

'Was there something special you wanted for Christmas this year?' Santa asked Wyatt. 'Where is your Daddy?'

'Afghanistan,' he replied.

'Do me a favor,' Santa said. 'Close your eyes now... see him in your mind... and wish him in your heart. There he is!'

Spend few hours with Wyatt Hale, and you'll realize that sometimes, Christmas wishes come true.


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